For A Refined Mint Julep, Skip the Muddle
Rather than muddling, place a small pinch of mint in the julep cup....
Turn and Rub
Hold onto the mint leaves and rub them on the sides of the julep cup to coat it with mint oil, and then remove the mint and discard. No need for minty bits in your teeth, and no over-bruised, bitter mint flavor.
Try a Different Spirit
Good strong bourbon or rye is great, but you can also make a julep with a dark spicy rum. Maxwell Britten of Maison Premiere in Brooklyn recommends using 2 ounces of Diplomatico Reserve, El Dorado 12-year, or Appleton VX. Stay away from rhum agricole, he says. You could also use an anejo tequila, given that Derby Day falls on Cinco de Mayo this year.
Stick Your Swizzle Stick In
Insert a swizzle stick into the cup and then add crushed ice halfway up the tin, then stir with the stick for 15 seconds—just long enough to slightly dilute the liquor.
For a festive presentation, pile on crushed ice and pack it a bit with your hands. If you're making crushed ice in a blender, Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad in NYC suggests placing it briefly on a dry paper towel after you crush it to remove excess water which will over-dilute the drink.
A Pretty Bouquet
No wimpy garnishes! An abundance of mint is essential for a julep. Maxwell Britten of Maison Premiere suggests twisting a group of mint stems together to bunch the leaves tightly.
Create an Entry Point
Make an entry-point for your mint garnish with a straw.
Ready to Garnish
Britten then removes the stems and uses two straws to push the mint into the julep tin. If you don't have proper julep cups, don't worry—you can use metal cocktail shakers instead.
The Final Product
Lookin' good. Will you be making juleps for Derby Day?